private vs club mixed abililty tennis lessons

New tennis coach and the value of club tennis sessions

It’s been great to see N’s tennis starting back up again. It was a long break, and I’m glad the coaches have put on a summer coaching programme. Usually it would stop for the holidays. And we’ve got the bonus of the club tennis starting up for summer junior sessions again.

While N really enjoys playing, I love being part of it again (even if I’ve not actually got on a court myself yet!).

From nothing, N is now back at group sessions although with only 3 of them. On Sundays, the club has restricted numbers free for all, open to any child who wants to play. This worked well for them last year, and many have come back again. Then the weeks that I’m on leave from work, he’s now got his private lessons back as well as the club putting on coaching for junior club members.

He’s got right back into it with no fuss and it doesn’t feel or look like there’s been much of a break with his tennis. Apart from serving, but that’s the one that really needs all the ongoing work.

private vs club mixed abililty tennis lessons

Private sessions

I’m a big believer in private lessons to really focus. N learns a lot from the group lessons as well. They help get a bit of competition going as well as work out what he can do vs the others. But having the focus of a 121 session means the coach can tweak and work on things that are specific to N.

N doesn’t like distractions. So when other children aren’t as interested in learning, or are really chatty, he finds it easier to learn when it’s just him.

This time he’s got a different coach for private lessons. A new one to them although he’s been coaching for the tennis company for a while now. N immediately took to him, and the coach picked up straight away what he wanted to work on with N. He also askrf me what N needed to improve on. I’m not sure all the parents would know the answer to that question for their children, as I’m often the only parent who stays to watch. I guess it means the coach can see how I as a parent interact or get involved. And whether I’ll be an interferer or help on backing up practice methods.

There were a lot of changes going on.

Footwork was changed to a more open stance.

He was taught full western grip like Nadal does, to help with N’s height given as a 9 year old, he’s not tall for getting the ball over a normal height net. To me it looks really weird but it worked and N grasped it quickly. He just needs to get it learnt for backhand now and keep practising without reverting back to what everyone else is doing.

He was also playing with yellow balls, because the coach said rightly that we all used to learn with a standard ball, he can hit and judge it, and will be playing that soon (well, 18 months times) anyway.

The coach liked the way N listens well and made the changes without fuss. He’s not always the best at immediately remembering these things, but N came off court after the hour saying that this coach was the best one he’s had. Sorry to all the other coaches he’s had/has over the years.

It’s a shame I can’t get N over to those courts every week, but as it’s in working hours, and the other side of town I can’t make it work. If it was at the club courts, it would have been fine, I could have nipped out to drop off/pick him up

Benefits of club tennis sessions

The club sessions are very different. Both the club coaching and Sunday sessions are a real mix of children. There’s 3 or 4 children in the over 8s who’ve had some coaching, and a couple of younger girls who N thinks he recognises from another coaching group too. But the rest are basically beginners. And of every age group, from small age 5s through to age 15.

It’s definitely a challenge. The younger children get split into smaller groups using red court and net, the older ones are all together, and rotate around with either the coach, assistant coach or club reps. It’s a larger group and there’s less play than N would get in his normal group lessons because there are children who can hardly hit a ball as they don’t know the basics. So while N’s normal lessons would have 4 on a court at once, they might only have 1 or 2 hitting at once.

But there is still value for N being at these sessions. He might not learn technique or get to practice the drills he would usually use. But he gets to practice his volleying as there’s a lot of Wipe Out played, and he’ll always choose to be at the net.

N also learns to be patient and understanding of other children who might not have learnt as much as him. He gets to experience hitting against an older boy who’s much stronger and hits hard and low. And as they’re playing on a full court, there’s learning and practising to hit longer and wider, which he doesn’t usually get in an orange court he usually plays in.

They’re also playing with a normal yellow ball (although N did moan the other day because there were a few green balls in the mix too, which makes it hard for them to know what ball is coming over the net and how it will react). So it’s good preparation for moving up out of mini tennis when he’s 11.

Hopefully by the time county tennis training returns in September, N will have played enough tennis to be fit enough to cope with the 3 ½ hours of training they do, and have his technique back. While they won’t have had matchplay practice, at least he’ll be tennis fit again and hopefully there won’t be a massive gap between him and the other children in his group.

Now I just need to convince him that I won’t embarrass him at the child and parent fun tournament they’re thinking of putting on! He’s already said he’d rather get my brother to partner him, but I’m not convinced that’s a great idea given the number of games they might have to play. I need to get on the court at some point, so may as well give the tournament a go (as long as I’m allowed to serve underarm!).

Find out more about getting children playing tennis

Are your children back at their activities again? Or are they still having to wait until autumn for things to open up again?

Like this post, try these other tips for nearby days out.

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